President Uhuru Kenyatta was Monday declared winner of Kenya’s deeply divisive election, gaining 98 percent of the vote in the absence of his rival Raila Odinga amid fears of further violence in opposition strongholds.
Kenyatta hailed his crushing win last Thursday as vindication of his victory in a poll in August that was annulled by the Supreme Court.
And he slammed observers who questioned the legitimacy of his win in an election that saw a turnout of only 38.8 percent.
“This was nothing more than a revalidation of (voters’) general will,” Kenyatta said in a victory speech.
But he conceded his victory was “likely to once again be subjected to a constitutional test through our courts”, adding he would submit to such a process “no matter its outcomes.”
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati said Kenyatta had received 7,483,895 votes to Odinga’s 73,228.
Odinga reaped less than one percent of the vote, a sign that the boycott he called for had held.
A total of 7,616,217 people cast ballots in Thursday’s protest-hit election.
The vote was the chaotic climax of two months of political drama after the Supreme Court overturned Kenyatta’s victory in August 8 polls over widespread irregularities and mismanagement by the IEBC.
Violent protests, the murder of an IEBC official and the resignation of another who fled the country condemning a flawed process, have seen the country lurch from crisis to crisis during the election period.
Chebukati — who just before the election had called into doubt its credibility due to internal IEBC divisions and political interference — said he was confident the poll had been “free, fair and credible”.
– ‘We don’t care’ –
Ahead of the announcement, security was stepped up in flashpoint areas in the west, in Nairobi’s Mathare slum and its central business district, and also in the coastal city of Mombasa, a senior police source told AFP.
As the results were announced, demonstrators began burning tyres in the western city of Kisumu as well as in Nairobi’s Kibera slum, AFP correspondents said.
“We don’t care that he has been elected president. Why would we care, we did not vote,” said Alex Onyango, 24, told AFP in Kisumu, where dozens of protesters stood at a roundabout shouting: “Uhuru must go!”
Although calm has reigned for the past 48 hours in the country’s restive west and in some flashpoint Nairobi slums, the announcement was expect to fuel further anger and protests.
At least nine people have died since election day — most shot by police according to rights groups — taking the death toll since the first presidential election to 49.
The Supreme Court ruling was hailed as a chance to deepen democracy, but the bickering between Odinga and Kenyatta — whose fathers were rivals before them — has sharply divided a country where politics is already polarised along tribal lines.
The current political crisis is the worst since a 2007 vote sparked months of politically-driven ethnic violence that left 1,100 people dead.
– ‘Politics of darkness’ –
Kenyatta hailed the resilience of the nation for not giving into “the politics of darkness”.
“Any other country experiencing the turns and twists of our recent electoral process would have burst asunder,” he said.
Odinga was expected to address his supporters on Tuesday.
After the September 1 court ruling, Kenyatta had angrily denounced the country’s top judges as “crooks.”
He admitted Monday that the decision on whether to insist on his victory or submit to the rule of law was “very difficult and painful”.
He also lashed out at Odinga for refused to take part in the re-run on grounds the IEBC had failed to make sufficient reforms to ensure the vote would not be flawed.
“You cannot choose the opportunity to exercise a right and thereafter abscond from the consequences of that choice,” said the 56-year-old president.
Odinga called on his voters to stay away on election day. But in the west, many blocked polling stations, leading to violent clashes with police.
Chebukati decided Monday to abandon plans to reschedule the vote in 25 violence-hit constituencies where voting could not take place, estimating these would not affect the outcome.
Calls for calm –
US Ambassador Robert Godec expressed concern over the recent clashes and called for “calm in the coming days”.
“Leaders and politicians should clearly and publicly reject violence and work to keep the peace, and make every effort to ensure their supporters do so as well,” he said in a statement.
“We are deeply concerned by reports of excessive use of force by the police.”
His words were echoed by Britain’s minister for Africa, Rory Stewart, who said he was “deeply concerned” about the recent violence.
“I urge security forces to exercise maximum restraint and call on protestors who are exercising their constitutional rights to do so peacefully,” he said in a statement.